The Tyne and Wear Metro has secured a further £13.1m of Government funding to support its services through to April next year while customer numbers continue to recover from the impact of lockdown.
The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed the new support package for light rail operators today, Friday 16 July.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said that that the longer-term financial support was welcome as it expected its recovery to be gradual after lockdown has ended.
The money will be used to cover Metro’s running costs through to 5 April 2022 while fare revenue continues to be adversely affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding provides certainty to operators and the resources and time to continue to transition their services to align with new customer behaviours after the pandemic, said the DfT.
Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, John Fenwick, said: “The longer-term financial support for Metro is really welcome and it will help us to sustain services through to April 2022 while the recovery continues.
“We have recently seen customer numbers on Metro return to between 60% and 70% of pre-pandemic levels. This further, substantial tranche of funding from the Government shows that they recognise customer levels remain depressed and that it will take time to get back to normal.
“The funding will go towards meeting our operating costs, ensuring that Metro, a key local transport network, is sustained while it continues to face the biggest challenge in its history.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “This funding is welcome news which will ensure Metro continues to provide vital public transport services for passengers across the North East. I’m pleased that this funding takes us up to April 2022 as passenger levels continue to recover as restrictions ease, however, we will continue to discuss with Government the need for a longer term sustainable funding package for public transport.”
Nexus has put a range of measures in place to ensure that the Metro system is covid-secure.
Measures include new signage and queueing systems, extra deep cleaning, UV light sanitisers on 36 escalators and hand sanitiser points at key locations.
Metro customers are also expected to wear face coverings when travelling on the system, unless they are exempt.
Wearing a face covering throughout your journey, on stations and trains, is a Condition of Carriage when using Metro unless exempt and customers may be refused travel if they do not. You should also wear face coverings when inside bus stations and interchanges or travelling on the Shields Ferry.